PostDoc: Bernhard Schmid
Phylogenetic variance and plasticity of developmental processes
A key question in developmental biology is how diverse animal body plans are specified. Early developmental decisions determine the coordinates of the embryo and activate the genetic circuitry that sequentially subdivides and regionalizes the animal body. For insects, only in Drosophila the early developmental events are known in molecular detail. However, insects with varied life histories must compensate different reproductive strategies by adjusting the regulatory networks within the developmental program. Therefore, phylogenetic differences between diverse species must be manifested in the genetic circuitries regulating embryogenesis. To identify the plasticity in early developmental processes, we study their conservation and divergence in different arthropod species. Developmental regulatory genes code for signal transduction molecules and transcription factors. By insect transgenesis and functional genomics approaches, we analyze genetic interactions within the regulatory network of early embryogenesis in diverse arthropod species. This will help us to understand how animal evolution is based on changes in gene regulation governing early pattern formation.